Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Classical Language Miscellany

Here is a really interesting piece about Venetian - a Romance language spoken in Venice and its surrounding areas that is actually older than Italian. I'm embarrassed to say I have never heard of this!

And here is a webpage that converts any date into the ancient Roman calendar - which I still find confusing, but since reading Chapter 13 (CAPITVLVM XIII) of Hans H. Oerberg's brilliant natural learning method Latin text, Lingua Latina, I kind of get it.

Today, Tuesday 30 December A.D. 2008 would be, in the old Roman calendar:

Hodie est dies Martis
Ante diem tertium Kalendis Januarius
anno domini MMVIII

(Today is the day of Mars
the third day before the Calends of January
in the year of our Lord 2008)

Numbers and dates are always really tough for me - especially the numbers in French between 60 and 100 (as they reflect the ancient Gallic fascination with twenty instead of the decimal system). My brain always freezes when I try to say a year in French ("mille neuf cent quatre-vingt... - oh the heck with it, Nineteen Eighty Four"). The same is true for trying to figure out a date in the old Roman way (you count backwards from either the first of the next month (Kalends), or from the middle of the current month (Ides), or from nine days before Ides (Nones) of the current month). I think that's right anyway. In the right-hand column, you'll also find a widget showing the current date converted into the Roman system.

In mostly unrelated news, this sounds like the very coolest way to learn Biblical (Koine) Greek.

And just en passant, while on the topic of language, a couple of books I found really fascinating: Empires of the Word by Nicholas Ostler and A Natural History of Latin by Tore Janson.

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